BY VINCENT CORTES
With countless eyes on him, junior Justin Ito becomes the spotlight on the stage as he dances passionately to the beat of the music.
Unlike most dance prodigies who started dancing at a young age, Ito started his dance career in his teens.
With his sister’s words of encouragement, Ito decided to join Wilson All Male (WAM) as a freshman in high school.
“My sister believed dancing would keep me occupied after school and would create [new experiences] with a lot of people,” Ito says.
As a beginner, Ito had a difficult time perfecting his dancing skills.
“Like all [novice] dancers, I struggled with learning and memorizing the choreography. I also had trouble grasping different styles and finding the style that suited me best,” Ito says.
However, as Ito grew more comfortable in dancing, he overcame his initial difficulties.
“With endless practice, I was able to pick up choreography faster overtime,” Ito says. “Being exposed to dancers with various styles, I was also able to find my own style, which requires a lot of controlled movements and energy.”
After being on WAM for two years, Ito’s interest in dance progressed. He gained the courage to try out for the prestigious dance group GRaVy Babies.
Joining GRaVy Babies is just one part of Ito’s journey to push past his boundaries and grow as a dancer.
“GRaVy Babies helped improve my dancing abilities by introducing me to renowned choreographers, pushing me to new heights and allowing me to have professional dance team experience,” Ito says.
Practicing over 40 hours a week, Ito and his team placed second at Body Rock Juniors, an annual worldwide dance competition, this past June.
“I was proud, because we competed against well-established teams from all around the world. I was able to show off my hard work to my friends and family,” Ito says.
To Ito, Archie Saquilabon serves as an role model for his distinctive dance style.
“[Saquilabon]’s dance gives me something to strive for. I am inspired by his hard-hitting moves that make his choreography unique,” Ito says.
Along with dancing, Ito creates choreography for WAM by matching the style of dance to the music.
“First, I count the beats of the music to see what [dance moves] fit the song best. Then, I freestyle to the song, which allows me to get a general idea of how the atmosphere should be. After rehearsing the choreography multiple times, I teach it to my team,” Ito says.
With a strong and growing foundation in dancing, Ito continues to improve and set goals for himself.
All in all, dancing is an activity that brings the best out of Ito, as it enhances his ability to express himself and shine as an individual.
“Dancing allows me to convey my emotions in it. I want to inspire the next generation of dancers, by sharing and teaching my choreography to others,” Ito says. “My next plan is to join GRV, the adult version of GRaVy Babies.”
While Ito progresses through his dance journey, he will continue to refine his craft and showcase his evolution as a dancer.